Looking for a Few Good Parsnip Experts
July 2, 2012 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Are second year parsnips good/safe to eat?

This is the second year for parsnips I grew from seed last year. They are currently over six feet tall and have flowers on them.

This was an experimental project and I know very little about them.

Are they okay to eat after they've flowered? Are they better now that they are a year old?
posted by AuntieRuth to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Best answer: They will probably have lost a fair amount of sweetness by now. Parsnips become sweeter over the winter, but the shoots use up those sugars. They will also be more fibrous. So they're edible, but not better. If you want to prepare them, I suggest either a savory preparation or adding a fair amount of sugar. Either way, remove the woody core, cut them small, and cook thoroughly. That will help reduce the toughness.

And if you don't want a ton of parsnip seeds everywhere, I would suggest harvesting them or at least pruning the flowers.
posted by jedicus at 9:53 AM on July 2, 2012

Best answer: And to be clear, the usual way of growing parsnips is to plant them, then harvest them sometime after the first frost but before the new growth starts in the spring. That is when they are sweetest. It's okay to leave them in the ground through the winter, and in fact that's a good way to keep them, since they go limp pretty quickly after harvesting. If you want a permanent parsnip bed then you can leave a few in the ground to produce seeds the next year.
posted by jedicus at 9:55 AM on July 2, 2012

Best answer: Generally, in plants that we eat that make flowers that we don't eat the produce from, once they've flowered you don't really want to eat them. The 'parsnip' part of your parsnip was the method of energy storage for the next spring/summer, and that energy is now being dumped into the flowers to reproduce. If eaten it would be woody, pith, and bland.
posted by ZaneJ. at 12:34 PM on July 2, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. My first ones never got very big last year and so when I read that they're better after the first frost I figured maybe they got better and better the long you left them in!

What a ding-dong.....thanks!
posted by AuntieRuth at 2:28 PM on July 2, 2012

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